Wednesday 25 April 2018

Norway mourns, marks week after massacre

Oslo, July 30, 2011

Norwegians united in mourning on Friday as the first funerals were held a week after anti-Islam extremist Anders Behring Breivik massacred 77 people in attacks that traumatised the nation.

Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg mourned in Oslo's main mosque at 1330 GMT -- the time Breivik detonated a homemade car bomb in Oslo on July 22 -- after attending a memorial by his ruling Labour Party where many clutched red roses.

"Evil has brought out the best in us. Hatred engenders love," he told the party of the killings that targeted his government and a Labour Party youth meeting on an island near Oslo. Many of the dead were teenagers.

"We want to be one community. Across faith, ethnicity, gender and rank," Stoltenberg said of a backlash against the attacks by 32-year-old Breivik, a radical Christian who opposed multiculturalism and religious tolerance favoured by Labour.

Stoltenberg has not once uttered his name in public.

On Friday evening, police raised the death toll at a Labour Party summer youth camp on Utoeya island 45 km (28 miles) from Oslo to 69 from 68. The shooting followed a bomb that killed 8 in Oslo.

Flags around the nation flew at half mast. Norway suspended import tolls on roses since Norwegian producers are unable to meet demand for the flowers that have become the symbol of remembrance -- a red rose is the Labour Party emblem.

In Nesodden, south of Oslo, the first of the funerals was held, for Bano Rashid, an 18-year-old woman who came to Norway in 1996 with her family fleeing Kurdistan in northern Iraq. She was shot dead at the summer camp.

Rashid was the first to be buried in a newly consecrated Muslim section of the cemetery by the picturesque stone-and-wood church, built in 1175. Several hundred mourners followed her casket to the grave, led by a Lutheran priest and an imam.

"We have many Muslims living here now, so she will not be alone there for long," the Islamic cleric, Senaid Kobilica of Bosnia, said of the new area of the cemetery.

On Utoeya island Rashid had lent a pair of rubber boots to former Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, who spoke to the youths and then left before Breivik arrived.

In a second funeral, Ismail Haji Ahmed, 19, was buried near Hamar, north of Oslo. Ahmed, a dancer who appeared in a television talent show this year, was one of three in his family who were at Utoeya, parliamentarian Thomas Breen said.

"We have lost one of our most beautiful roses," he told Reuters. The two other family members survived.

Police interrogated Breivik on Friday, for the second time since he was arrested.

"He is calm, he behaves calmly," his lawyer Geir Lippestad told NRK public television. He said Breivik showed no remorse, saying the killings were "a necessary act ... a war against the rule by Muslims."

The Norwegian Police Security Service said Breivik probably acted alone, doubting his statements that he was a member of a wider group of "Knights Templar".

"The terrorist acts bring no increase in the threat from known extreme right or left-wing groups in Norway," it said.      "It is most likely that the perpetrator planned and carried out the actions with no support from others," it said, calling the bombing and shooting "unique both in a national and international context.”

Summer camps

At the Labour party memorial, Eskil Pedersen, head of the Labour youth movement, said the group would return to Utoeya.

"We have taken our country back ... we will take Utoeya back," he said.

An opinion poll indicated support for Labour had leapt about 10 percentage points in the days after the attacks. Stoltenberg has won praise for his calm handling of the crisis.

The poll, for newspaper Sunnmoersposten, found Labour's support jumped to 38.7 percent immediately after the attacks from 28.1 percent just before, in a two-part poll each covering about 500 people in the days around July 22.

At the same time, support for the populist right-wing Progress Party, of which Breivik was once a member, fell along with backing for the opposition Conservative party.

The Progress Party became the second biggest in parliament after a 2009 election on an anti-tax and anti-immigration platform, but says Breivik was not an active member.

A court has appointed two psychiatrists to try to discover why Breivik staged his attacks, with a mandate to report back by Nov. 1. His lawyer has said he is probably insane.

Norway plans to set up an independent "July 22 Commission" to examine the attacks, including investigating whether police reacted too slowly to the shootings at Utoeya island, when Breivik was able to kill for more than an hour.

Police have said officers drove to Utoeya from Oslo because they had no helicopter available. – Reuters

Tags: Norway | Oslo | massacre | Mourning | Breivik |


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